Carter has strong words for White

BY Sam Gardner • September 24, 2013

On Sunday morning, less than two hours before he caught two passes for 16 yards in a loss to the Miami Dolphins, outspoken Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White took to Twitter to criticize ESPN’s NFL Countdown crew for their disapproval of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith.

The panel — which includes longtime Denver Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson and former NFL wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter — criticized Smith, who was arrested Friday morning under suspicion of driving under the influence.

Not long after word of White’s tweet got out, both Johnson and Carter took to Twitter to respond to the claims:

But Carter, who was once cut by Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan on account of his problems with drug and alcohol abuse and recently celebrated his 13-year anniversary of being sober, wasn’t done there. He took things a step further Tuesday, appearing on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike to discuss White’s comments.

“He was kind of contradicting what we were saying on the air,” said Carter, who saluted Ryan in his Hall of Fame induction speech in August and credited the former coach with turning his life around. “(White) was saying that we were being hypocritical because most of the guys said (Smith) shouldn't play. I didn't even address him playing; I addressed the bigger issue as far as the image of the players.”

Carter then shifted his attention to the specific allegation in White’s tweet.

“He directed something at me to the fact that, 'I know Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter have all driven under the influence,' (and) yes we have,” Carter said. “But my story is I quit drinking. I lost my job over drinking and making bad decisions. So even when I talked on TV, I wasn't trying to be hypocritical. My news, it's out there. That's why I stopped, that's what I was trying to tell him.

“And the No. 1 reason (I quit) besides my family and making a commitment to them to take care of them, when I used to go to AA meetings, I used to sit next to a guy in a wheelchair, and he was a total paraplegic and the reason why (was) he was drunk driving and he killed two people. And he was my buddy, kind of a mentor to me when I got into the program.

“So when Roddy White tweets something like that to me, he's not just tweeting it to some random guy. I have real experiences in my life that cause me to make those decisions every day, and I'm very, very blessed that yesterday was a good day and I didn't have a drink, and I'm going to try to do the same thing today.

“But it has nothing to do with taking something personal out on these players. Yes, we have been out many a nights, we have been places we shouldn't have been, we have done things we shouldn't have done, but why don't you learn from our example? Don't make the same mistakes that we have made.”

The hosts, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, a teammate of Carter’s during his three years with the Eagles, then asked Carter how long it might be before Smith, who entered rehab on Monday, might return to the field for the 49ers.

“I don't know what rock bottom is to him,” Carter replied. “People are different. I hope this is his rock bottom, but if he continues on this course, it will get worse. That's the way this disease is, man. it leaves people lonely, it leaves people disappointed and you break a lot of people's hearts.

“Golic, you know me, and you know when Buddy Ryan cut me, I changed my life on that day. And I hope Aldon Smith … has his experience like that and he can get his life together and live a full life and be young and be productive, and then some other young player one day might be able to learn from his example.”

It was a powerful message about the danger of alcoholism from a high-profile figure who has been there, and it seemed his words got through to White, who returned to Twitter Tuesday after Carter’s comments hit the airwaves to issue an apology.

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